Synergy: the Software KVM (or just KM) Switch

Having multiple computers can be a blessing when trying to multi-task, but trying to control them all at once can take a lot of room. Hardware options are available. They are called KVMs, which is short for keyboard, video, and mouse switches. However these hardware options require a constant hardware connection. This makes it impractical for laptops, or when substituting the KVM for the real keyboard/mouse/screen set up is not desired.

This is where Synergy — a software option — can really shine. And yes, it works with Ubuntu. While Synergy is not a true KVM, it is quite helpful in a multiple computer situation. Synergy’s website probably says it best:


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Works great, most of the time. Have used it for several years on a desk with ubuntu-xp-kubuntu.

Is not a KVM, but a KM. You must still have the video output separate from each system.

The documentation is a little weak, especially with regards to :

1. setup - that the entire left to right AND right to left screen configurations MUST be entered

2. startup - how to get synergy to start at boot on various systems as either client or server

I have issues with mouse movement between systems when the server is heavily cpu bound.

The cut/paste across systems (one of the most useful features) gives me fits, at times.

It allows me to use my full size keyboard and mouse with my laptop as a client.

There are considerable security concerns about the ethernet traffic between server and client systems being "in the clear".